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ADDITIONAL CORRESPONDENCE WITH MR Pitt.
SINCE the first volume was printed, some additional communications from Mr Pitt have cast up, which I think it right to preserve, as a proof of the strong friendship which had, at one time, subsisted be
In 1793, I had formed a plan for restoring the commercial credit of the country, which had fallen into a most deplorable state. The origin and progress of that great measure are explained in the History of the Revenue *.
I had first suggested to Mr Secretary Dundas, the idea of appointing a Committee of the House of Commons to take the subject into consideration, to whom I proposed communicating my plan; but that idea was given up, in consequence of the following communication:
I received your letter, respecting the state of public credit in this country. Government has been paying great attention to the subject. I am very doubtful of the propriety of any measure being brought forward; but I am sure, unless something specific was previously arranged, the appointment of any Committee, to take up the subject loosely, and without any plan before them, might produce mischief, with very little prospect of good. If you have any specific ideas to state, I shall be very glad to receive them. I remain faithfully
In consequence of this letter, I sent a specific plan, recommending the issue of Exchequer bills, which, when afterwards adopted, was attended with such astonishing success.
The execution of the plan, however, was likely to be most inconveniently delayed from the forms of office, by which the Exchequer bills, on the credit of which the whole operation depended, could not be issued for several days. It occurred to me, however, that the certificate of the commissioners, authorising the bearer to receive Exchequer bills to a certain amount, was as good security as the bills themselves; and that money might be advanced on such certificates with equal safety. I had communicated by letter this idea to Mr Pitt, and requested both his opinion of it, and, if he approved of the plan, his assistance in carrying it into effect; but in consequence of his being out of town, I had received no answer to the communication. I therefore resolved to carry through the measure myself, and actually raised, on the credit. of those certificates, L.70,000 from several bankers in London, who had a respect for the person by whom the plan had been proposed, and were satisfied of its utility and importance. When Mr Pitt came to town, on the Monday morning following, he immediately sent to me the following note:
Mr Pitt presents his compliments to Sir John Sinclair. Having been out of town, it is only within this half hour that he has received his note of yesterday evening, or he would have returned an earlier answer. As Sir John Sinclair may probably be at the House, Mr Pitt will be glad of an opportunity of talking with him there on the subject.
Downing Street, Monday, half-past three.
We met in the House accordingly, when Mr Pitt took me behind the Speaker's chair, and said, "That the plan I had proposed was a very desirable one, but that, in the present state of the credit of the country, it did not seem to him practicable;" upon which I informed him, that so far from being impracticable, I had carried the plan into effect that very morning. He was quite astonished at my success, and he was thence induced to give his support to the establishment of "A Board of Agriculture," which I soon afterwards brought forward. Had he likewise adopted my plan, to compel bankers to give security for the notes they issued, what miseries would it not have prevented?
The issue of Exchequer bills, for supporting the commercial credit of the country, is certainly one of the greatest operations recorded in history. No instance, it was justly remarked, is to be met with, where such essential benefit has been rendered to the commerce and manufactures of a country, in a manner so sudden, so easy in execu
tion, and, (what is perhaps the least important consideration, compared with the magnitude of the object), at no expense to the public *.
In carrying on the great contest with Mr Fox, which terminated so favourably to Mr Pitt, he greatly relied on the suggestions which, from time to time, I transmitted to him, of which the following letter is a satisfactory evidence :
I have, in consequence of your suggestion, sent a copy of the last paper communicated through Mr Powys, which, I think, conveys all the information necessary on the subject. If any thing arises material, I shall trust to your goodness to apprise me of it. Yours sincerely,
Berkeley Square, Wednesday.
Having sent a letter to Mr Pitt, with a tract on the finances of the country, in which I had paid some compliments to his political conduct, I received, in return, the following communication:
Downing Street, Dec. 15. 1782.
I have great pleasure in returning you many thanks for your letter of the 12th December, and the pamphlet which accompanied it. I have not yet had an opportunity of perusing the whole; but I am very glad that there is nothing now to prevent my offering you my sincere acknowledgments for the paragraph you were so good to point out, and for the obliging expressions of your regard. I am, Sir, your faithful and obedient servant,
In 1784, I had applied to Mr Pitt for the grant of a Baronetage, to which I had a claim, as the heir and representative of Sir George Sinclair of Clyth; and being then a widower, with two daughters, I requested that the title should be descendable to them. In answer to these requests, I received from him the following friendly communication :
* Indeed, L.4000 of profit was gained by the operation, which I suggested should be appropriated to the establishment of a Board of Agriculture.
Putney Heath, Nov. 2. 1784.
MY DEAR SIR,
The rambling life I have led in my holidays, with some occasional mixture of business, made me defer writing to you from day to day. At last, as is too often the case, I have grown almost too much ashamed of my omission to correct it; but as I find you are still fixed at a distance, I cannot any longer defer thanking you for your letters. I shall, with great pleasure, contribute every assistance in my power, if circumstances will admit, of the limitation you wish of the title of Baronet ; and I shall be happy to converse with you upon it when we meet, which I hope will be before long. I wish much to know your present speculations on our finances. Our prospects of it improve. Most of the particulars you mention in one of your letters may, I hope, be easily ascertained. While we are thinking of improving the moments of peace, the state of the Continent is growing every day more uncertain. I am, Dear Sir, your most faithful and obedient
In 1786, I resolved to take an extensive tour throughout the northern countries of Europe, with a view of collecting information that might be of real use to my own country. I communicated the plan to Mr Pitt, and requested to know if there were any objects to which he wished me to pay particular attention. In return he sent me the following letter:
Hollwood Hill, May 29. 1786.
I regret much that I lose the pleasure of seeing you before your departure. I heartily wish you a great deal of entertainment, and a great deal of information, which I believe is more your object, and in which I am happy to consider myself as so much interested. You may always depend on my services, on any occasion when I am at liberty, and when they can be of any use to you. The revenue papers shall be got for you if possible. I shall be happy to hear from you whenever you are at leisure. Believe me, with great truth and regard, Dear Sir, yours most sincerely,
I regret to add, that after my return from this extensive tour, Mr Pitt did not show the least disposition to derive any advantage from the information I had collected; and that Lord Thurlow was almost